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News 14 Mar 13

New Food Scandal Threatens Romania

Reports that turkey meat containing antibiotics was exported to Germany, Austria and Britain pose a new threat to Romania's tottering economy.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Romania's Sanitary Veterinary and Food Safety Authority, ANSVSA, on Wednesday announced an investigation into reports that Germany had withdrawn Romanian turkey breast containing traces of antibiotics.

“We have started an investigation of all Romanian abattoirs which export turkey. Preliminary findings show the situation is under control but will see the final results in the coming seven days,” Vladimir Manastireanu, ANSVSA's vice-president, said.

Manastireanu added that an “alert” was received on Wednesday that a batch of meat with residues of antibiotics was exported from Romania. The same meat went to Britain and Austria.

The turkey breast allegedly contained traces of enrofloxacin, an antibiotic used to treat various diseases, including salmonella, respiratory diseases and hepatitis.

Industry experts fear a fresh food scandal could inflict real damage to Romania's economy. “The local meat industry is already on the verge of collapse following successive food scandals and our exports are now at the lowest level ever," Sorin Minea, from the meat industry association, Asociatia Romana a Carnii, said.

"People in Romania are also becoming reluctant to buy meat,” he added.

Minea urged the authorities to speed up their investigations and communicate the fact that most Romanian abattoirs and food processing units work in full compliance with EU standards.

In recent months, Romania was in the middle of an international scandal over horsemeat wrongly packaged as beef, which made its way into food products sold in France and Britain by the food giant, Findus.

Later investigations revealed that Romanian abattoirs had openly sold the meat as horsemeat, and the incorrect labelling had occurred further down the supply chain.

European Union governments have approved an EU-wide program of DNA tests on beef products to assess the scale of the scandal.

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